The Efficacy of Acupuncture for the Treatment of Sciatica: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:192808. doi: 10.1155/2015/192808. Epub 2015 Sep 6.


Background. Sciatica is one of the most frequently reported complaints; it affects quality of life and reduces social and economic efficacy. Clinical studies on the efficacy of acupuncture therapy in sciatica are increasing, while systematic reviews assessing the efficacy of acupuncture therapy are still lacking. Objective. This study aims to assess the effectiveness of acupuncture therapy for sciatica. Methods. Comprehensive searches of 8 databases were conducted up until April 2015. Outcomes included effectiveness (proportion of patients who improved totally or partly in clinical symptoms), pain intensity, and pain threshold. Effect sizes were presented as risk ratio (RR) and mean difference (MD). Pooled effect sizes were calculated by fixed effects or random effects model. Results. A total of 12 studies (involving 1842 participants) were included. Results showed that acupuncture was more effective than conventional Western medicine (CWM) in outcomes effectiveness (RR 1.21, 95% CI: 1.16-1.25), pain intensity (MD -1.25, 95% CI: -1.63 to -0.86), and pain threshold (MD: 1.08, 95% CI: 0.98-1.17). Subgroup and sensitivity analysis found that the results did not change in different treatment method and drug categories substantially. The reported adverse effects were acceptable. Conclusions. Acupuncture may be effective in treating the pain associated with sciatica.

Publication types

  • Review